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Photography by Heather Christo

A grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food and a childhood favorite. And even though it may seem hard to top the simple melted American cheese version, these recipes succeed. Fancy cheeses, rustic veggies, and unexpected flavors (pizza grilled cheese, anyone?), take this beloved sandwich to the next level. Here are 14 reasons to get out your skillet and give the grilled cheese a major makeover.

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Photography by How Sweet Eats

1. Peach, Bacon, and Gouda on Pretzel Bread

What makes a grilled cheese “gourmet” is thinking outside the box. This sandwich takes pretzel bread and turns it into a sophisticated dish packed with unique flavors.

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Photography by Yammie’s Noshery

2. Bacon, Brie, and Apricot

If you’re going to add a fruit to your grilled cheese, you should probably add bacon and a balsamic reduction drizzle, as well. The combination balances the flavors so the fruit doesn’t feel out of place.

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Photography by Heather Christo

3. Portobello, Gouda, and Kale Pesto

When melty cheese and toasty bread are involved, even your least favorite veggies will taste delicious. The perfect vegetarian lunch option.

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Photography by Foodie Crush

4. Monte Cristo Waffle Sandwich

Don’t be afraid of the salty, sweet combo of a Monte Cristo. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

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Photography by Alida Ryder

5. Creamed Spinach

It’s like an appetizer dip inside a grilled cheese sandwich. An amazing trifecta of spinach, mozzarella, and feta cheese shock the taste buds in this fancy lunch.

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Photography by Heather Christo

6. Brie, Bacon, and Strawberry

For the grilled cheese lover who is looking to incorporate this sandwich into breakfast, here’s your chance. You will wonder how you went so long without this in your life.

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Photography by Jessica Merchant

7. Spicy Mini Meatball Grilled Cheese

Here’s a hearty, full-flavored grilled cheese for all the meat lovers out there. Keep this recipe in your arsenal for game-day hosting.

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Photography by Cooking for Keeps

8. Pizza Margherita

When you combine pizza ingredients in a sandwich, you wonder if it will be able to top an actual pizza. This recipe proves you can still have the pizza flavors you crave, without the hassle of the crust.

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Photography by Drizzle and Dip

9. Croque Madame with Spinach and Smoked Salmon

Here’s the French grilled cheese that puts the American version to shame. Look closely, and you will see layers of flavor from the cheesy spinach to the smoked salmon—all topped with a perfectly cooked egg.

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Photography by Epicurious

10. Grilled Goat Cheese with Fig Preserves

Here’s a 15-minute recipe that looks like it was made in a fancy café. Melted goat cheese and fig spread are a match made in grilled cheese heaven.

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Photography by Center Cut Cook

11. Mexican Grilled Cheese

Chicken fajitas work surprisingly well between two grilled slices of bread. You won’t even miss the tortilla—we promise.

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Photography by How Sweet Eats

12. Caramelized Peach, Mascarpone, and Chocolate

You probably came here for lunch ideas, but now you are looking at this. (It still counts as lunch if it’s in a sandwich, right?)

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Photography by Two Peas and Their Pod

13. Pesto, Artichoke, and Havarti Cheese

A grilled cheese full of earthy flavors is just what you need on a rainy day. Make it even better with a warm bowl of soup.

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Photography by Baker by Nature

14. Cranberry, Brie and Prosciutto

Take your charcuterie board and turn it into a sandwich. The sweet cranberry takes the edge off the saltiness of the prosciutto, and the melted brie ties it all together.